The claw-like mass of land extending west from İzmir terminates near ÇEŞME, most low-key of the central Aegean’s main coastal resorts. The immediate environs of Çeşme are green and hilly, with added colour from the deeply aquamarine sea and the white of the electricity-generating windmills on the approach to the peninsula. The climate here is noticeably drier, cooler and healthier than anywhere nearby on the Turkish coast, especially in comparison with occasionally hellish İzmir or muggy Kuşadası. These conditions, combined with the presence of several thermal springs, have made the peninsula a popular resort for over a century.
A picturesque, often sleepy town of old Greek houses wrapped around a Genoese castle, Çeşme (“drinking fountain” in Turkish) doubtless takes its name from the many Ottoman fountains, some still functioning, scattered around its streets. Despite guarding the mouth of the İzmir Gulf, it has figured little in recent history other than as the site of a sea battle on July 5, 1770, when the Russian fleet annihilated the Ottoman navy in the straits here.
The town’s three main streets all radiate off Cumhuriyet Meydanı, the town’s largely pedestrianized main square. İnkilap Caddesi, the main bazaar thoroughfare heads off north and east, while Çarşı Caddesi, its continuation, saunters south along the waterfront past the castle, kervansaray and most of the travel agencies before veering slightly inland. The town’s esplanade hugs the waterfront to the north passing the small fishing port until it reaches a small crescent-shaped beach. It’s all very pleasant, in a low-key way.